tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 11, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
"hardball" starts right now. so, how does obama beat romney? let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, beating mitt. first it was donald trump. then um balkman and rick perry and now it's herman cane who's leading in the polls as the darling of the right. but the one constant has been mitt romney hanging around as the republicans mr. right now, if not it's mr. right. romney clobbers mr. obama in our new poll in new hampshire and is neck and neck with him in iowa, two states obama won in 2008.
if obama's going to beat romney and win re-election to his second term in these very challenging times, he can't totally blame bush. he can't focus on the past. he's going to have to make a case for the future. can he do it? that's where we start tonight. plus, we've been talking about it for days here on "hardball," and now it's gone mainstream. can the democrats embrace the occupy wall street protesters? should they? if they jump in, as one person pointed out, what happens if the protesters start throwing garbage cans through the windows or worse? also, the president's jobs bill. we know it won't get 60 votes tonight to overcome a filibuster. the question is, will it get enough democratic votes to avoid embarrassment for president obama. will he get, say, 50? and a story right out of robert ludlum novels. federal authorities say they foiled a plot by a man linked to the iranian government to use mexican drug cartels to kill the saudi ambassador to the u.s. and
to bomb the saudi embassy here in town. we've got some fascinating details on that story that just broke. >> and let me finish tonight with the case for a really big jobs bill. we started with how mitt romney is going to beat barack obama. michael steel is a former chairman to the republican national committee and now an msnbc political analyst and mark penn is a democratic strategist and former hillary clinton campaign strategist. mark, hillary's not running this time. i don't think. president obama is running for re-election. he has to make the case for a second term. he has to probably, we're just going to propose this now, beat mitt romney, the way it looks right now. romney's got some great many numbers. let me show you why we're proposing that. just came in from the new nbc news and the marrist poll up in iowa and in new hampshire. in the iowa caucuses, mitt romney leads among republicans, but herman cain is right behind him. ron paul and rick perry are both well behind -- well behind them. in the new hampshire primary, republicans overwhelmingly now
go for mitt romney, more than 30 points behind him are both herman cain and ron paul, with rick perry down to fourth place up there. by the way, in head-to-head matchups, and that's what we're going to talk about right now, a possible head-to-head matchup, a probable one now between president obama and mitt romney. the president narrowly defeats mitt romney in iowa by just three points, while mitt romney beats the president in new hampshire by a pretty impressive nine points, 49-40. so given all that we're just proposing tonight it's time for the president's -- because i know the people in the white house, as you know, are thinking about this. how do they beat mitt romney? >> well, you know that they've got to occupy the center. the problem with mitt romney is that he is the most centrist possible republican candidate. and the conservatives are fragmented. so that means two things. is mitt romney a conservative, or is he a centrist? i think the president's got to push him to the right. it's got to use mitt romney's primary answers to show that romney, the old romney might
have been in the center, the new romney is to the right. the president is mainstream. give him a chance. his policies will work. >> say he's not good on immigration, he's not good on abortion rights, he's not good on all the issues where the center tends to be more in the center. put him over on the right. >> put him on the right, so he can't have access to the women voters, to the latino voters. the kinds of voters that make up not just the democratic base, but that go beyond the base into the center. >> michael steele, former rnc chair, what happens if you see the republicans doing -- i'm sorry, the democrats doing that. beginning to craft mitt romney as a right-winger, as basically a rick perry? >> well, i think that there are a couple dangers in there for the left in doing that. number one is that as 2010 showed us, that there are a lot more people who tend to hew more to the center right of the spectrum politically and will support conservative candidates and romney, i think, can stake that ground out very comfortably, particularly after the nation sees him go through
this primary process. >> so you're saying that their strategy, if it becomes the strategy, to jam him over on the right, isn't going to hurt him? it's not going to hurt him that much. i think, ultimately, it's probably an okay place for him to be, as this cycle has shown itself over the last, you know, seven, eight, nine months. >> well, look, i think that, also, is it a massachusetts miracle or a massachusetts mess that romney created? you've got to go after his record as governor, you've got to go after his record with big business, favoring big business, and you've got to show on the social issues and the issues of values, he's to the right. it's a three-part strategy. >> but the problem that the obama team has is the last three years. >> okay, let's stay off -- >> i'm just saying -- >> that's the counterargument. but what do they do if they make this guy on the right. suppose they make him gordon gekko, they can he's one of the pigs on wall street, one of the investment bankers and equity people that's been making tons of money through lobbying washington and keeping their taxes from having to be paid.
>> bring it on. >> especially portrays him as a bad -- >> bring it on. that clarifies and lays on the table what we've been saying that the obama administration and the democrats have been nothing more than class warfare. it etches -- it puts it up to that level. if you're going to look at romney and his success and what he's done, he was not part of the debacle over the last five years or last two years -- >> do you think the public likes the people who brought us through financial hell in '09? >> are you saying that's romney. are you equating romney to that because if that's what you're saying bring it on because everybody know it's a lie. >> they know he's a big business equity guy. >> he's a business guy who's not been in that business the last three years when -- >> i'm trying to get the argument. >> you've got to defeat the three parts. that he's moved to the right, that he's big business, that his record's not as good as it -- >> i say bring it on and let's have fun doing that and we'll win on that. we'll win on obama's record against that argument. >> do you think the public is rooting for the people protesting in wall street or wall street? >> i think the republic right now is rooting for itself. and the protests --
>> i'm asking if they have to choose between a romney -- >> no -- >> a gekko type and a regular person. >> first off, i don't accept your analogy that romney and gekko are one in the same. so let's take that apart. >> so greed's not good? >> that has nothing -- romney has -- >> you're saying -- will you say greed's not good? >> what i'm saying chris is what you're trying to do is disingenuous. >> there's frustration throughout the country. >> right. and that's not reflected, if romney is beating obama by nine points in new hampshire, clearly, that's not reflected in the voters' attitude. >> yeah, but romney's not well known. >> romney's not well known. he's been running for president for five years! >> he's been keeping out of the controversy. i think the voters -- >> if this is the strategy, bring it on. >> they will say, where's the record? they'll say he's big business, and they say, hey, we liked you to the center, but not to the left. >> the let me get you some stats to firm up -- i don't think it needs firming up.
every poll that's taken by every legitimate organization shows that the american people believe our tax system is totally unfair. they believe the rich should pay a higher percentage. the reason democrats are going after millionaires plus is because that's a very popular position to take. you say it's not popular, you say it's fine. you say the millionaires would win the argument against the regular people. that's what you're saying? >> that's not what i'm saying. that's what you're saying. listen to my words and don't reinter pretty them. >> you're saying, when you go over to the right, it's okay. >> what i'm very clearly saying is, if the strategy is as you set it up -- >> he set it up. >> us a set it up, then that's a great argument for us to have. and i think the american people, as they've shown since 2010, are more inclined to not disabuse themselves or dismiss a mitt romney just because you, say, chris -- >> doesn't matter. you're basically saying. let me clarify definitions. because you shock me, michael, you say it doesn't matter whether you run rick perry or romney, as long as you're on the right, that's where you belongs. >> i'm not saying that. >> you said that. >> i did not say that. i'm addressing your supposition
that if romney is running, that he's going to -- as mark said, we're going to force him to the right. and i said that's not necessarily a bad place to be. >> force him? the republican party is moving to the right. >> you're hedging. not necessarily. a minute ago you said it was fine. >> it's the same thing. it's okay. >> okay, let me take a look at how the republican field is shaking up right now. and the reason we're talking about romney right now, how it shifts. remember the familiar sight of front-runners mitt romney and rick perry sparring in the center of the pack in the fall debates beforehand? well, tonight rick perry has been upstaged, and perhaps one of the truest signs of his surge in the polls, herman cain will be standing there next to mitt romney in the center. the people who organize these debates say they don't do it, but they do it. they put the front-runners in the middle. you can see the full seating arrangement in this chart. you can see herman cain there in the center, or the left over there at the top, and romney on the right at the top. are they the two front-runners in your party right now? is romney ahead, or is cain really a threat to him? >> i think romney's ahead, and i
think cain is in that hunt, if you will. perry's still a gamer and then, of course, you still have someone like a rick santorum -- >> but romney has positioned the fact -- isn't romney responsible for herman cain winning that straw vote in florida. you're laughing because he got his people to push him so he'd be his alternative. >> maybe that's true. you have to ask those guys. >> is he using herman cain as a tackling dummy? >> no. he doesn't see him as a tackling dummy. i think he sees him as someone he can work with should this thing progress and he becomes the the nominee, and you're looking at a romney/cain ticket. >> here's romney touting his business credentials and his service as massachusetts governor, but he was also quick to say nice things about herman cain. here he is setting up his favorite sparring partner, when who he clearly sees not as a threat. let's listen. >> i was able to use my skills in a public sector setting, and that's probably something if i were herman, i would say, i wish i had that too. because you don't want to necessarily learn that for the first time as the president of the united states. he's a great guy. vote for either one of us and
you'll be happy. >> isn't that amazing language? he was able to use his skills in a public setting. a public -- in other words, he was governor of massachusetts, and he's acting like -- don't blame me for being in the government. a public setting. >> it's very clear what's happening. cain's surging, perry's collapsing. cain's a conservative with some economic credentials. the conservative vote is being split, it's allowing romney, because chris christie didn't get in, to run away with the moderate republican vote. that's what's happening. >> and to run away with what chris christie brings to the table as well, with this announcement today, that that grassroots activism, that sort of tea party effect, i think romney, right now, is the tortoise that's looking at the finish line and feeling pretty good about it. >> i still think there's a problem in your party, and i think it's been addressed by mark, that in the end, the only way you win the republican nomination is rhetorically going to the right. you can't win as a centrist. >> how do you win the democratic nomination? >> by the time he's done doing that, obama has him in the corner.
>> how did barack beat hillary? hillary was considered the conservative in that race so obama spoke to the liberal wing of the party. why do you act like this is a new political revelation. and this this is the newest thing in politics. >> because mccain was eight years too late to the fight and you know it. >> it's not just the social issues. it's the republicans in congress are at 12 and romney is backing the republican congressional position. >> okay. >> which means he's going to be out of step on the social issues and then out of step on the economic position. >> but it's a whole different dynamic -- >> let him finish his point. you're overwhelming this guy -- >> no, that's it. >> okay, thank you both, then. thank you, michael steele, and thank you, mark penn. coming up, can the democrats embrace the occupy wall street protests themselves? they could use the anti-wall street fervor, but they won't want to be associated with those protests should they get ugly. and that's their conundrum. they don't know whether to join this crowd or to watch for a while more. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. and packages. yet they're closing thousands of offices,
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build, baby, build. the white house singled out 14 projects around the country for expedited permitting and environmental review. a move the administration says will help create jobs. topping the list, the big new york tappan zee bridge, a deficient bridge over the hudson -- there it is, just north of new york, that was built in the last 50 years but is already older than that and needs to be replaced. sure like to know that when i drive over there. other projects include light rail in los angeles and maryland, highways in utah, and airport improvements in houston. we'll be right back. [ woman announcing ] there's an easier way. create your own small-business site... with intuit websites. choose a style, customize, publish and get found... from just $7.99 a month. get a 30-day free trial... at intuit.com.
welcome back to "hardball." the occupy wall street protests began 25 days ago in a new york park, but the anger has grown and the protests have spread across the country now. today, protesters in new york were hopping -- hoping to highlight how much less the wealthy pay and taxes by carrying giant checks and
protesting at the home of some of the big apple's richest residents. with the protests growing in number by the day, democrats have merely been expressing support for the groups in statements and letters like this one from the progressive caucus. however, yesterday the democratic congressional campaign committee sent an e-mail, asking its supporters to sign this online petition to stand in solidarity with occupy wall street protesters and to send a message to republicans who have been critical of the movement. if the democrats are trying to join or lead this occupy wall street parade, it's a strategy that comes with considerable risk, of course. u.s. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is the chair of the democratic congressional committee. she joins us now. congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. >> sure. >> are you, as a leader of the party, still trying to figure out the cut of their jib up in new york? whether it's a group you want to get identified with or what? where are you with the protesters in new york and across the country now? >> no, i'm not still trying to figure it out. as both a leader of my party and
also as a representative of my congressional districts in south florida, i think the occupy wall street movement represents a reflection of the callus indifference that for years under republican leadership in this country really ignored the needs of the middle class. it gave all the benefits and all the advantages in terms of a regulatory scheme and the financial services industry to corporations and to wall street and to the wealthiest, most fortunate americans. and this is the pushback. this is the point at which that middle class folks say, no more, it's time for some balance, and i think that the worst of it is reflected in mitt romney's unbelievable, within 24 hours, saying that two sides of the same coin, in one day. going from calling these protesters dangerous to being able to the next day say that he identified with the 99%. i haven't ever seen anything
that mitt romney's done that's shown a sensitivity or an orientation to the 99% of the americans who are struggling to make sure that they can put food on the table and have some balance in their lives economically. >> let me show you three top political leaders, allies of yours, colleagues in the democratic party, extending their hands to the protesters. listen. >> i think people are frustrated and, you know, the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. >> the american people do not think the system is fair or on the level. that is the core of what you're seeing on wall street. >> i support the message to the establishment, whether it's wall street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen. we cannot continue in a way that does not -- that is not relevant
to their lives. people are angry. >> when do you believe, congresswoman, that democratic officials will begin to meet with the people who are protesting the way that republicans in the last election certainly met with the tea partiers and used them to get elected to control the congress? >> well, i think many of my colleagues would be willing to sit down and meet with them. i know that i have not had requests in my congressional office to meet with the occupy wall street protesters in south florida, but i'd be glad to meet with them. i agree that it is a reflection of the frustration of the middle class and working families who feel like the policy under the republicans put the wind at the backs of the wealthiest and most fortunate and that thanks to president obama, now we do have an orientation and a pressing forward of trying to put some balance in there, focus on the needs of consumers, add some weight to the scale on behalf of
consumers, and occupy wall street protesters are pushing for that advocacy to make sure that we can even the scales up. that's what president obama's doing on the policy side as well. >> well, can you list the things that you would do as a member of congress and a leader of the party that's going to make them happy? what are you doing to win the support? from what i understand, the people in the streets are so alienated right now, so angry, they don't like either political party. it's not a place where president obama can go up and get a big applause from showing up, or he'd be there now. how do you make them see you guys as the good guys? >> well, for starters, we're pushing to get richard cordray, the president's choice for the consumer financial protection bureau to be approved as his nominee by the united states senate. the republicans are blocking that. so continuing to advocate for the full implementation of the consumer protections of the wall street reform legislation, that's a way to help address the
concerns of occupy wall street, but we've already accomplished quite a bit. the credit card holders' bill of rights bill law that was passed and signed into law by president obama, that really makes sure that credit card companies can't jack up interest rates arbitrarily and focuses on the needs of consumers that are credit card holders. and there's more that we should do. but we've got to balance the scales here. the republicans want to put all the weight on the side of the wealthy, most fortunate americans in corporate america. mitt romney even said that corporations are people. democrats believe that people are people. >> well, well said. thank you much, thank you for joining us up in new hampshire. >> thank you. >> scene of the somewhat less than interesting debate tonight, because i haven't even figured out what channel it's on. thank you. debbie wasserman schultz, congresswoman from florida and chair of the democratic national committee. joining me now is ron reagan, author of "my father." ron, what are your impulses when you watch those people up in new york and we've gotten different pictures of them? do you feel for those people, is
this something that you wish you were part of? >> actually i can be part of it myself if i want to stroll a few blocks from here, because an occupy seattle movement started over the weekend. i think it's at fourth and pike here in seattle. i just got back from overseas, so i haven't had a chance to go down there. but the impression i get, and i think joe biden even mentioned this in one of the clips that you just played. this is a movement that has a broad bad anger, and the challenge, it seems to me, for the democratic party, if they want to somehow join the movement or co-opt the movement, however you want to put it is, that these folks are just as mad at them as they are at the republicans. the republicans may be more egregiously in the hop pocket of the wall streeters and bankers, but the democrats are too. there are those who staked their whole career on creating tax loopholes for the richest 1%. they're not the natural allies
of the occupy wall street movement. >> let's not forget that democrats control both houses of congress and the white house, at numerous times in our lifetimes, and they didn't fix the tax system when they had all the power in the world. let's take a look at "the new york times" reports today, reports that some of your party, actually the democratic party, are nervous about getting involved with these protesters. democrats are nervous. "they see the prospect of the protesters pushing the party dangerously to the left, just as the tea party has often pushed republicans farther to the right and made for intra-party run-ins. some officials in the party remain wary of their potential impact, especially if the protests were to turn more disruptive or even violent." do you sense there's a downside for the dems if this stuff gets more rowdy, if you will, rougher up there? and other places besides new york? >> yes. imagine what would happen if people at these occupy wall street groups should start showing up with assault-style weapons and talking about second amendment solutions. yes, then i'm sure the roof would come off, wouldn't it? but the problem for the democrats isn't that this might
turn violent. i suppose it could, but i don't see any signs of that so far. but the problem is, again, that these people are angry at a system that has been rigged by both parties to serve moneyed interests. the democrats have been complicit in that, just as the republicans have been complicit in that. your question to debbie wasserman schultz, what are you going to offer these people, is exactly the question. what are the democrats going to offer these people? they going to throw some bankers in jail? are they going to close the loopholes for the richest 1%? i'm not so sure that all the democrats are on board with that. >> yeah. when both parties are hoping for colder weather to come soon because then they can say what a great demonstration of unhappiness and so glad that it's over and we don't have to worry about it anymore. ron reagan, thanks for joining us tonight. up next, another awkward campaign moment, no surprise there, for mitt romney.
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front-runner, but mitt romney's more spontaneous attempts at humor are often more spontaneous than humorous. and yesterday, he gave us just one more instance to add to the list, when he was joined by his wife, ann, at a new hampshire town hall. let's watch. >> i am -- i'm thrilled to let people also know the other side of mitt, which you might not all get to see, and that's -- oh, dear. >> oh, dear. is this the return of the cleavers? speaking of romney, remember a few weeks ago when he stood side by side with former presidential candidate tim pawlenty? what seemed like pawlenty's endorsement meant that he had moved on from his own white house ambitions, but as it turns out, seems as if pawlenty's still stuck on the what if. yesterday pawlenty pointed out that he regrets putting so much campaign cash into his early campaign days in iowa, saying, "we were out of money. to go forward, you have to have money. hindsight's always 20/20."
and then speaking about the decision to actually drop out of the race pawlenty said, quote, based on what we knew at the time, we thought it was the right call to drop out. pawlenty also pointed out that he would have remained a contender if he knew then what i know now. isn't that odd timing, don't you think? given pawlenty's new job as a national co-chair for romney's campaign and he's still talking about what he could have done, would've, could've, should've. and now for the big number. there may be a total of eight candidates in the gop roundtable debate tonight, but in reality, the field of candidates is a whole lot larger, on paper, anyway. according to the fec, the presidential findings are still coming in and show no signs of slowing down. what's the all-inclusive tally of the 2012 presidential candidates on the republican side? well, as of friday, 239 people and an overwhelming majority of them got their paperwork in well before the ones we'll see at tonight's debate. and on the 2012 ballot, for that matter, 239 candidates. wow, they're all running for president.
that's tonight's big number. up next, president obama's jobs bill faces a big vote tonight. in fact, it's coming soon. and while it won't pass, the big question is whether enough democrats will vote for the jobs bill to spare the president embarrassment. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. but nothing's helped me beat my back pain. then i tried this. it's salonpas. this is the relief i've been looking for. salonpas has 2 powerful pain fighting ingredients that work for up to 12 hours. and my pharmacist told me it's the only otc pain patch approved for sale using the same rigorous clinical testing that's required for prescription pain medications. proven. powerful. safe. salonpas. requires more than wishful thinking. it requires determination and decisive action. i go to e-trade and get unbiased analyst ratings and 24/7 help from award-winning customer support to take control of my finances and my life.
neither is investing. here's what's happening. a judge in new york has ordered an iranian-american terror suspect held without bail. authorities say mansewer offered $1.5 million to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the u.s. the treasury has imposed economic sanctions against three iranian officials alleged in that plot and the iranian government is denying any involvement. prosecutors in the trial of the accusednd wear bomber say he
admitted to another passenger before the plane landed that he had been trying to blow up the plane. israel's agreed to release more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for one of its soldiers who has been held by hamas since 2006. blackberry research in motion is scrambling to address a second day of outages and first lady michelle obama led a group of school kids in jumping jacks today, part of her let's move initiative. now back to "hardball." today the senate of the united states has a chance to do something about jobs right now by voting for the american jobs act. this is a moment of truth for the u.s. senate. welcome back to "hardball."
president obama scored a long political victory winning the backing of 51 of 52 democratic senators for consideration of his american jobs bill. howard fineman is editorial director at "the huffington post" media group and msnbc political analyst and jonathan allen covers capitol hill for politico. thank you both, gentlemen. howard, it looked like it took some hand-wringing or arm twisting to get mccaskill, bill, nelson, joe manchin, jim webb. he did manage to get a lot of the ones. he got them to agree to at least vote to move it forward. >> well, i think that's important, chris, because i think the president, having talked to some of his aides over the last day. they saw tonight and today as a study in contrast. some up here in new hampshire where the republicans are debating and supposedly talking about the economy, while meanwhile down in washington all of the republicans voted against, or voted not to consider the president's jobs bill.
and i think that's the contrast that the white house wanted to make. that's the point that the president wants to try to make out on the campaign trail, that he's not just dealing with a do-nothing congress but with a congress that doesn't want to -- you know, wants to stop everything. that's the message he's trying to put out there, and he got most of his democrats to support him on that strategy tonight. >> jonathan, not only got the democrats 51 with jeanne shaheen joining the vote later tonight in a delayed opportunity to vote, 51 of 53 democrats with only tester and ben nelson off. he also was able to force the republicans to vote against this surtax on the wealthy which would seem to put the president's party in league with the wall street occupiers, which is what they seem to want to be, generally speaking, without getting too close and cuddly with them. >> interestingly, this is an argument that senator schumer of new york has been making for a long time. if you make that dividing line, the millionaires and billion airs you've got a great political argument. there aren't that many of them, and, of course, this would
raise a fair amount of money, basically enough to offset the entire jobs bill, so this is definitely a good political argument for democrats. they believe that this is something very easy, very bumper stickerable, that republicans are opposing big surtax on millionaires, on people who make over $1 million a year. >> let's go back to the whole package. howard, a lot of gamesmanship here tonight. here's a vote tuesday night. it was interesting to watch mcconnell, one of the shrewdest operators i've seen in my lifetime proposing tonight a unanimous consent agreement to let the congress, the senate vote up or down on the president's jobs package as originally designed, also as modified with the schumer drawing the line at $1 million for the tax thing and then getting the democrats in the language of harry reid and the voice of harry reid saying no thanks, we really can't have a vote like that tonight, an up or down on final passage. what do you think of that move by the clever, shrewd mr. mcconnell?
>> well, because i think he was trying -- this was the easier vote for democrats. there might have been a few more democrats who would -- who would go the other way when it really came down to -- to taxes, but i think those democrats, those conservative democrats would be missing a bet based on what i'm seeing up here, chris, out on the dartmouth green. you've got families from vermont, new hampshire, of people who are unemployed, and they are running out of unemployment benefits and, you know, this is supposed to be a well off part of country. it isn't for everybody, and, you know, i ran into people holding up signs like this. this has hand printed by somebody who said, okay, where are the jobs and on the other side saying gop, listen to the 99%. >> wow. >> that's what the base of the democratic party is interested in. this wasn't put out by the labor unions, chris. this is somebody hand printing them in the basement of a church, and that's what the feeling is out there. forget the college kids, you
know, whose parents are going to pay for all of this. we're talking about the local people here in new hampshire and vermont. that's who the president has to talk to, and that's what he thought he was trying to do tonight. >> well, that's great reporting. jonathan, your thought on that? this question of whether the democrats can pull a harry truman style victory by simply posing republicans as the do-nothing, pro business right wing party, if you will, that has no interest in helping working people. >> that's certainly the play that democrats are going for. i'm not sure it's going to be enough. we'll have to see. it's a long time from now. it's interesting that howard mentioned had they done the original president's plan, some of the votes that voted to cut off debate for the democrats may have voted the other way. joe manchin basically said that, that he would vote to let this process move abu that the bill would have to change tremendously for him to get behind that. he's not going to get that chance, of course, the bill not getting enough vote for clowe sure, but to the larger point. absolutely, this is what democrats will run on.
the republicans are the party of the big special interests. they will try to paint the republicans into that 1% number that howard fineman was talking about and, you know, obviously republicans are saying that raising taxes in a time of recession is not helpful to growing the argument. that's the long-term argument. >> given the argument and the fact that there's a logjam on the overall bill, is there an opportunity for the senate and the house to both pass something that reduces payroll taxes so the people can be hired more easily and cheaper? >> well, chris, that's already been done twice. it's considered to be a -- a real stimulus to the economy because it puts more money in the pockets of average working families. it seems to me almost impossible that they won't pass that, but that -- that's one -- that's an argument that the president should be able to win and probably will win. beyond that i don't really know.
i don't know about the extension of unemployment benefits. the guy i was talking to up here, you know, outside on the dartmouth green. he's been unemployed for a year and a half. he's had unemployment benefits for most of that time. they are running out now. i don't know whether they can be extended again. that's actually going to be a big fight if that happens, and i think republicans are going to take the risk of saying they are not going to support it without compensatory budget cuts elsewhere. they tried that before and failed. i bet they try it again. and in terms of the president's big infrastructure program, $175 billion for jobs. >> yeah. >> for infrastructure jobs, you know, i bet you that that -- i bet you that doesn't pass because the republicans, again, are going to say we'll do it if you show us how you're going to cut the budget without raising taxes. >> let me -- i agree with you the assessment. let me go to jonathan. how do we end up here with any kind of jobs bill, in other words the kinds of jobs bill that we think of as a jobs bill where people are put to work,
working on the highways and on bridges with picks and shovels doing their jobs and working and getting paid. it looks like now after the vote tonight we're not actually going to get a jobs bill like that. >> i don't think so, chris. there doesn't seem to be a path forward. the only way there would be a path forward i think is if the public spoke up and made very clear that there would be electoral consequences for not having that sort of traditional jobs bill you're talking about. republicans frame this as son of stimulus, the original stimulus bill from 2009, and that's -- that's a good political argument for them right now because people don't want to see a lot more government spending. the president's got to turn that paradigm around if he wants to see, again, that kind of traditional jobs bill, where you've got teachers being hired, fire fighters, policemen, the kinds of thing that he has in this proposal. >> yeah. well, we'll see the results. the public may be paying attention finally in the streets of new york and up in hanover. great reporting up in hanover to the scene of tonight's bloomberg/"washington post" debate. jonathan, thanks for joining us in the second edition tonight, as we updated people.
the democrats held tonight, but not enough votes to pass the bill. the obama administration busted up, by the way, a terror plot by iranian agents that just announced today that would have targeted the saudi ambassador right here in washington. that's ahead. that's a hot story. this is "hardball" only on msnbc. sugar salmon flakes! sorry buddy. even with bath tissue. that's why i buy new charmin basic. it's very reasonably priced. and it holds up so much better than the leading competitive brand. new charmin basic has a duraflex texture... that's soft and durable. plus, it's two times stronger when wet versus the leading competitive brand. new charmin basic works for my bottom line. and my bottom. we all go. why not enjoy the go with new charmin basic?
well, republican presidential candidate jon huntsman is denouncing those comments by pastor robert jeffress that mormonism is a cult. huntsman, who like romney, is a member of the lds church says, "the fact that some moron can stand up and make a comment like that, first of all, is outrageous. second of all, the fact that we're spending so much time discussing it makes it even worse. jeffress, a perry supporter, called mormonism a cult at the value voters summit friday and did so again last night on "hardball." we'll be right back.
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welcome back. fbi director robert mueller today said it read like a hollywood script, an alleged iranian plot to hire assassins from a mexican drug cartel to assassinate the saudi arabian ambassador here in washington. two men have been charged with the plot and one is a dual american/iranian citizen. the other man, who has not been apprehended, is a member of quds force, iran's special operations unit. there are still a lot of questions about this, not the least of which is how high up in the iranian government this plot goes. to help us understand what's going on, we're joined by nbc national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff, best in the business. michael, what do we know about this plot? it involved the restaurant here in town, almost like a gangland style assassination attempt.
like you do in the mob days. >> look, the restaurant is something that was the fbi informant's suggestion. it was a fictional restaurant. there was no real restaurant. and that's one of the problems in sorting out this case. clearly, there was something real there. and this is a wild case, you know, from the mexican zetas cartel to the, you know, saudi ambassador, the iranian ambassador -- >> but the iranian agents paid 1.5 million to knock off somebody. >> allegedly. if you read the complaints closely, it's not clear that they were willing to put up 1.5 million for this. that that was the suggestion of the informants. and as i was trying to say, that's one of the difficulties in sorting through this here. what we know is this iranian-american in corpus christi, a used car salesman, apparently, makes contact with a federal drug informant out of texas and says he wants to plan an attack against the saudi ambassador in the united states.
now, in the original conversation, according to his confession, all he talked about was a kidnapping, the saudi ambassador. at some point in the conversation with this informant it becomes a much more elaborate elaborate and deadly plan to bomb, assassinate and carry out other attacks. >> how did the iranian official from the quds force get involved? that's what interests me. >> this guy, the chief suspect, the used car salesman, is traveling back and forth between the united states and iran and is allegedly meeting with the quds force commanders. just late today the treasury department announced designations against some of those high level quds force commanders who say they were coordinating the attack and supervising it and it clearly goes according to the treasury department announcement high up
in the quds force. one was plotting a mass attack on u.s. soldiers in iraq and another had been previously accused of human rights issues and serious suppression of protesters there. so this clearly according to the u.s. government allegations goes how up in the quds force. does that mean the iranian government itself -- there are a lot of factions in iran. >> these are public officials who get paid. >> these are clearly public officials. these are clearly people who are in positions of responsibility in the iranian government. what's not clear is whether they were operating on their own, you know, for instance take an analo analogy. if this was the united states government, was it a rogue operation by the quds force or sanctioned -- >> if we tried to knock off
somebody inside iran who's an ally of iran, they would make the biggest stink about that in the world at the u.n. right? what are we going to do about it? go after iran on this or make it a criminal case? >> they certainly made it a criminal case. >> what about the government of iran. are we going to hold them responsible as an enemy or talk about a political or rather criminal investigation? this is a kidick tracy case. >> we've been squeezing the government of iran for some time over their nuclear program. we've been imposing sanctions against the government of iran. they've gone well in what they think they could do without provoking some sort of military conflict with the iranian government. i think this ratchets it up. how far they're going to take this, i don't know. it's going to be interesting to see. >> one of them will go to court. we have him in custody right now. >> he confessed. >> he will confess. is he the one who nailed the other guy, fingered the other guy? he's already talking. he will continue to talk i assume to get his sentence down. >> right. >> okay. so they negotiate with this guy -- he's a rough looking
customer. they're going to bring him into the old dick tracy interview room and going to get him to tell everything, right? >> right. and i think he already has told quite a bit. the question is, how much, if you read the complaint closely, it is not entirely clear how much the quds force commanders who were supervising him, who were running him, were appro approving -- were directing to him in how much the federal drug informants -- >> somebody shows up with a promise of $100,000 in a down payment with perhaps a longer promise of $100 million, where is that money coming from? it comes from iran. >> it's coming from the iranian government. >> follow the money. >> there's something clearly here. there's real meat here. i don't think this is made up or concocted. what i'm saying is there's a lot of ambiguity -- >> remember how world war i started? assassination of an official in a foreign country. thank you, michael isikoff.
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let me finish tonight with this. what to do. what to do to save this economy of ours from another downturn, that new recession that seems to be creeping our way. what would you do? i'm not asking about ways to reduce the deficit or diminish the overall national debt, nor do i want political flourishes
gestures that give joy to the left or the right. no i'm asking about what we, the people, can do that will avert another recession, that will act on the economy in a way that cuts the unemployment rate, puts money in the pockets of consumers and gets this country moving again, gets business investing in products that have a market out there of american people who are able, willing and stirred to spend money. what would you do? today a columnist for the "new york times" offers us an answer. it's a prescription for meeting the great malady of the american economy. unemployment. or if you want to put it more brutally, the oversupply of labor in this country. call it what you want. the simple fact is there are more people looking for work here than there are people looking to put them to work. nobody has to be told that. it's the condition we're living in. part of the proposal suggests that in "the times" today is to create 5 million new jobs a year
with a five to seven year infrastructure program at a cost of $1.2 trillion in government and private sector spending but mostly government spending. this drives us right to the point of decision, doesn't it? you can support such a proposition which goes well beyond anything president obama is pushing, or you can oppose it, saying the government ought to be cutting spending. i think the president ought to make it clear where he stands, that even if he doesn't have the votes right now to get it passed. if he thinks this bigger program is called for, he ought to say so. people ought to know where their leader wants them to be led, don't you think? don't we have a decent claim on knowing that our president agrees with the need to do something this vital, this big, even if he can't get the votes for it? nothing would dramatize the ideal of a second obama presidential administration than him himself simply laying out where he would like to take the country in meeting its imminent economic challenges, 5 million new jobs a year, or continued deflation, continued decline in